Of course, it would be dishonest to pretend Balham’s was the world’s first diagonal crossing. Without wanting to waste officer time getting a precise answer a search on the council’s website reveals the idea was first proposed in 2002 and, by 2005, had been implemented (both links open PDFs) – so it is only between four and seven years old.
But it’s slightly galling to hear Oxford Circus praised as a “a triumph for British engineering, Japanese innovation and good old fashioned common sense” when actually that’s what Balham is – Oxford Circus is just a copy.
(I’m not the only one defending Balham’s good name; Adam Bienkov has also covered it on the ToryTroll blog, Dave Cross bemoans Balham’s lack of credit at SW12.org and Jon Silk, in his PR Geek blog, suggests Balham’s diagonal crossing isn’t as well used as it could be.)
Regrettably this post has caused some considerable offence, which was never my intention – please see Oxford Circus: An apology.